FALL RECIPES- Acorn Squash and Chicken Chili

So, fall is here in Southern California…even though it doesn’t particularly feel like it. Today the forecast says it will get down to a chilly 70 degrees, only to get back up to 91 degrees on Saturday. I am dusting off my UGGS as we speak…haha!

Anyhow, even though it hasn’t cooled down a ton here, the fall vegetables are out in full force at the grocery stores, so I picked up a few of my favorites last week. I always buy spaghetti squash, but one of my other favorites during the fall is acorn squash. This little green and orange nugget of joy has a sweet flavor when baked. One cup has only 56 calories and 25% of your daily Vitamin C!

One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is to just cut one in half, bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes and drizzle it with coconut oil, a little cinnamon and brown sugar. But today I decided I wanted to do something a little more filling and put together a delicious chili that will last for a few days in my refrigerator…which is a good thing, because I have a busy week. Any time I can make a healthy and hearty meal that I can put in tupperware and carry with me to work for lunch is a good meal.

This chili was a little different. It called for a cup of pilsner, which is a light beer. It also called for unsweetened cocoa powder, which has become a staple in my chilies, because it adds a rich but subtle dash of flavor.

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ACORN SQUASH AND CHICKEN CHILI

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 acorn squash seeded, cooked, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup pilsner/light beer
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Navitas Naturals)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 15 1/2 ounce can black beans, drained
Juice of 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
Cilantro, for serving

Feel free to add sour cream, greek yogurt or sliced avocados as well!

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, five-spice powder and chili powder and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the squash pieces, chicken pieces, tomatoes, beer, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the black beans and lime juice and cook for 5 minutes. Let the stew cool slightly, then ladle into bowls and top each serving with some cilantro.

ENJOY!

Persimmons are FINALLY back in season!!

Yesterday I went for my weekly (when I am free on a Tuesday, which lately has not been often!) walk over to the Culver City Farmers Market. I am not an avid farmers market shopper. I enjoy some of the more random findings that a farmer’s market can offer from time to time, like cotton candy pluots and cactus based tortillas, but more often than not I just go to Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, because the quality is usually fine there and a lot cheaper. However this time of the year I am on a mission, and lucky for me the season started the week I decided to show up. persimmons

PERSIMMONS! Ok, you are probably thinking, what is the big deal. I just love them. They are my favorite fall fruit and their season is pretty short, from about October until February. The fuyu and the hachiya are the most common varieties found in the United States.Fuyus represent almost 80 percent of the persimmon market in the United States and are most commonly eaten raw. They are characterized by flat bottoms, a squatty shape and a slightly crisp texture. Fuyus should be yellow-orange in color and are at their best when they are slightly soft. This is the variety I prefer. Hachiya persimmons are very astringent unless they are perfectly ripe, in which case, they have a unique velvety flesh. Differing from the fuyu variety, they have an elongated, acorn shape and are slightly larger than the fuyu.

Persimmons are high in vitamin A and zea-xanthin, good for skin and eye-sight respectively. They are also high in beta-carotene and lutein, good for fighting cancers and oxygen-derived free radicals. Persimmons are also great source of vitamin C, folic acid, B-6 and thiamin, which helps with circulation and carbohydrate metabolism.

Ok, so enough on the background. I bought myself a bag an brought them home. I washed one off and ate it, and then I decided I wanted to try to make something with persimmon. Instead of looking up recipes, I made up my mind pretty quickly. After eying the popsicle molds in my cupboard (as it has been unseasonably hot for October!) I decided I wanted to try to make a popsicle with persimmon in it, so this is what happened. This came out pretty good, except I would probably skip using the greek yogurt and just use coconut milk because the yogurt made the popsicles taste a little sour. Otherwise, a healthy treat and very easy to make.photo 1

PERSIMMON COCONUT POPSICLES

1 persimmon, chopped

1 single serving of Greek 0% yogurt (optional)

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1 cup almond or coconut milk

2 tbsp. honey

Blend in high powered blender until desired texture is reached.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze over night.

Enjoy!

Kick Off Fall With Spicy Pumpkin Chili!

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a few days now, but got overwhelmed with health clinics during random hours. Sorry folks, but here it is! I realize it is only a few days after Labor Day, but who is counting? Fall is coming, and pumpkin recipes are already being tossed around on the internet. I am a HUGE fan of pumpkin. Pumpkin pies, bars, cookies, smoothies, puddings…you name it! I do tend to use my pumpkin puree for sweet dishes, but I was found this savory dish and decided to add some twists to it and make it my own.

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Just as a refresher, for those of you who ask, what’s so great about PUMPKIN? (How dare you!! Kidding, kidding!) One cup of cooked pumpkin contains about 200% of your daily Vitamin A intake, which aids in vision. It is also a major source of fiber and has three grams in one cup serving and only 49 calories. Remember, FIBER is what keeps you full longer. Pumpkins also have the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which can help play a role in cancer prevention. Cooked pumpkin also contains more potassium per cup than one banana…so adding a cup of that a smoothie could be a nice snack switch up.

Get some pumpkin with this recipe right here…

Spicy Pumpkin Chili 

1 pound lean ground turkey (optional)

1 medium-sized purple onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped

.5 can pinto beans

.5 can black beans

.5 can kidney beans

1 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes, diced

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 Tablespoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

Crumble ground turkey into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until almost browned.

Add onions and garlic and continue cooking until meat is browned and onions are tender.

Transfer meat to a slow cooker, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and cook on high for 2-3 hours.

Serve topped with fresh avocado. If you want to sprinkle some cheese or Greek yogurt, feel free as well, but the pumpkin makes this chili so creamy I didn’t miss the dairy.

Also, if you are a vegetarian, feel free to add more beans…a full can of pinto, black and kidney would be fine. And if you have time to cook dry beans, that is also a great option. I just needed to put this together for a few quick lunches for myself this week and the canned were a little easier and still healthy!

 

More Fabulous Spaghetti Squash Recipes…Spaghetti Squash With Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Chickpeas and Onions

So, spaghetti squash is awesome, as we all know, especially if you are trying to watch your carbohydrates with your eating plan, but don’t want to feel super deprived. A few things you might want to be aware of with spaghetti squash…although it resembles pasta, it DOES NOT taste like pasta. Spaghetti squash also DOES NOT interact with sauce the same way real pasta does. Spaghetti squash, if you did into it plain with nothing on it, tastes like…squash! But it’s fun to eat and knowing it is only 40 calories for a whole cup of this stuff and it doesn’t leave you bloated or in a “carb coma”…well, you can psych yourself out. I know I have, and I love this stuff!Image 7

I know many of you are probably feeling like you have done just about every spaghetti squash recipe out there and…you’re burned out. So you see, this is why you have ME in your life to come up with new, fun, healthy recipes for you to try at home.

So this dish here makes about 5 servings, but you will probably eat two of them in one sitting, because it is a very light dish, coming in at less than 200 calories a serving. I also added ground turkey meat to mine(the picture below!), because as a self-proclaimed athlete, to just have the dish alone, I felt unsatisfied after one serving and knew adding a little lean protein would help with that. Feel free to add a little sliced avocado or crushed almonds for extra sustanence.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CHICKPEAS AND ONIONS

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  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 15 ounces chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • sliced almonds or avocado, optional

Instructions

BEWARE this is a healthy recipe and it is not difficult, but it takes a little over an hour to put together. It is totally worthwhile because you can store it in tupperware and take it with you to work or wherever, but it is not the quickest recipe around.

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Pierce a spaghetti squash a few times with a knife (pierce deeply through flesh into center). Place on a baking sheet or foil on center rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes and then turn it over. Bake another 30 minutes or until outside has browned in places and shell feels soft. Remove from oven and set aside until it is cool enough to handle. Once it’s cool, cut it in half and remove and discard the seeds and scrape the strands of squash out with a fork. Put the squash into a bowl and set aside.
  2. While the squash is cooking, prepare the Brussels sprouts. Trim and discard the ends and cut the sprouts in half. Place on a baking sheet and douse with olive oil. (This prevents burning; if you don’t want to use the oil, cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.) When the squash has almost finished cooking, put the sprouts into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove them when they are just beginning to get brown (they will finish cooking in the skillet in the next step).
  3. In a large, deep, non-stick skillet, spray it down with cooking spray and cook the onions on medium-high heat until they become golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts, garlic, and vegetable broth and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for 3-5 minutes, adding more broth or water if skillet becomes dry. Add the chickpeas, basil, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the spaghetti squash, and toss gently to mix. Cook until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with crushed or sliced almonds, if desired.